University of Dayton Chapter

American Association of University Professors

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Jan. 14, 2010  (Minutes Unapproved)  

 

Roesch Library 602, 2:00 p.m.  2009  Second  Meeting, 2009-2010  

Presiding:  President Joseph Watras  

 

1.             Prof. Freil had no financial report to present as the balance has not changed since the last meeting.

      2.             Minutes of the Nov. meeting were approved.

3.             The Chapter is planning a Social for March 11.  The AAUP chapter at the University of Dayton will host a social event with refreshments in the LTC Forum 044 on 11 March 2010 from 3pm to 4pm. Dr. Saliba agreed to engage in a conversation.

 

4.             Prof. Buckley will provide refreshments for this event.

 

7.        Next Meeting The next meeting will set for Feb. 18  2010 at 2:00 in R.L. 602.  

 

8.         Meeting adjourned at 2:40 p.m.

 

As a matter of faculty interest Professor Buckley has excerpted the following from a recent AAUP Investigative report.

 

From the AAUP Investigative Committee Report published in The AAUP Online which is an electronic newsletter of the American Association of University Professors. Released Jan. 2010.

The subject of this report1 is the declaration of an enrollment emergency by the administration of Clark Atlanta University and its subsequent action on February 6, 2009, to terminate the appointments of fifty-five fulltime faculty members, approximately one-fourth of the total faculty, with no notice and four weeks of unconditional severance salary.

CAU is a comprehensive, private, urban, coeducational institution of higher education with a predominantly African-American heritage. It offers undergraduate, graduate, and professional degrees as well as certificate programs. The university has been accredited since 1990 by the Commission on Colleges of the Southern Association of Colleges and Schools to award bachelor’s, master’s, specialist, and doctoral degrees. As of fall 2008, the university had some 230 full-time teaching faculty members, with a student body of just under 4,100 (3,380 undergraduates and 688 graduate students).

 

Asked by a reporter some time later “why the university didn’t take the faculty suggestions for avoiding layoffs,” a university spokesperson stated that “pay cuts would have to be a matter of seeking agreement from all personnel and this was not likely, given our current salary configurations, and the process would have exceeded the time period necessary to maintain good financial positioning.”

 

On Friday, February 6, some sixty fulltime members of the Clark Atlanta faculty—twenty of them formally holding tenure, others with long years of service, and most of them (perhaps as many as 75 percent) in the School of Arts and Sciences—received identical letters signed by the director of human resources, Valerie Vinson, that were delivered in many cases by their dean, notifying them that their positions at the university had “been eliminated and [their] employment . . . ended effective today.”

 

All of the laid-off faculty members were given thirty days of severance salary and issued a separation and release agreement under which they would receive additional severance payments ranging from two to eight weeks of base salary, depending on the length of their service, if they waived all claims against the university and any rights to pursue internal or external remedies. Most of these  faculty members, upon being notified of their layoff, were directed to surrender their identification cards and office keys, shut down their computers (at which point their passwords were disabled), and remove their personal effects within the hour and exit the campus. Some faculty members report having been intimidated by the presence of security guards, and others report having been escorted off campus by those guards and informed that if they returned to the university without prior permission, they would face charges of trespassing. When questioned by the AAUP investigating committee about what seemed the unnecessarily uncivil and, indeed, outrageous treatment of these professors, some of whom had been loyal CAU faculty members for decades, President Brown responded that the process represented “best practices” in higher education and noted that “one never knows what goes on in the hearts and minds of others, no matter how long one knows them.”

For the remainder of the semester, in order to offset the loss of faculty in the affected departments, courses of the released faculty members were reassigned to other professors, sections of some classes were combined, and some students were transferred to completely different courses. Faculty members who had not been laid off were directed to take on additional classes, in some cases two or three, without any additional compensation.

According to the faculty assembly’s calculations, these layoffs “will at best lead to cost savings of less than 0.5 percent of the current annual operating budget,” not the “millions” that President Brown had asserted the university needed to save. Several of the affected faculty members filed grievances with the university review committee sharply challenging the actions that were taken in their cases. The grounds for grievance included a lack of stated criteria for the actions taken; the absence of a meaningful faculty role in the decision-making process; the release of tenured and other long-serving faculty members in favor of retaining junior colleagues, many of whom were assigned to teach courses, typically as overloads, that the tenured faculty members had been teaching….

 

As noted above, however, despite the massive financial challenges President Brown asserted Clark Atlanta was facing, the administration and board of trustees expressly declined to declare financial exigency. Indeed, President Brown has stated that the university, out of concern with the institution’s “surviving and maintaining its financial stability,” was forced “to act immediately and decisively to avoid a declaration of financial exigency.” (Emphasis added.) Rather, it declared a state of “enrollment emergency,” defined in the handbook as “a sudden or unplanned progressive decline in student enrollment the detrimental financial effects of which are too great or too rapid to be offset by normal procedures in the Handbook”  The Association does not recognize “enrollment emergency” as a legitimate basis for terminating tenured appointments or nontenured appointments before the end of their specified term, and the investigating committee was very troubled by the “enrollment emergency” category in the faculty handbook.

  

        Respectfully submitted,  

 

        David M. Buckley  

        Secretary  

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